“The acid rain is coming teacher. Am, Am, we will get Am and DIE!!”, my students shouted at me today. (Am is cancer in Korean btw!) “The bad rain from Japan is coming,” they persisted as I blew them off quietly asking them to open their text books.
With all the hype about the Nuclear fall in Japan after the recent Earthquake and Tsunami, a lot of rumours have been circulating news outlets, online forums and social networking sites.
Despite many of these news sources being reliable and well established national newspapers, I still feel as if I have no idea what is going on. I have been telling my students to stay calm and not to believe everything they read online, (bit rich coming from an online Journalist, eh?!)
First off, Korean Newspaper “The Straits Times”, tries to dispel rumours of any sort of acid rain resulting from the nuclear plant writing, “Acid rain cannot be caused by Japan’s nuclear fallout. Acid rain is caused by sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, whereas the radio-active material from the nuclear plants is primarily radioactive iodine and caesium.”
The Korea Times claims many of the stories circulating with regards to rising radiation levels and acid rain are simply “Rampant false rumors” and have “prompted an irrational buying-frenzy for certain items”. On Tuesday, a false rumor that Korea might be vulnerable to the spread of radiation from Japan in the afternoon that day due to shifts in wind. The message said, “The wind has begun to blow toward the Korean Peninsula. Stay indoors for 24 hours and close all windows. If it rains, don’t expose yourself to it. Tell your friends about this. It is said the materials may hit Korea as early as 4 p.m.”
The JoonGang Daily talks about Korea banning certain food produce from Japan, with certain items already banned form being imported and the impact of westerly winds that may bring radio ative rain this weekend. “Korea is keeping a close eye on fallout from Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, banning some produce from another prefecture near the disaster yesterday. But it can’t stop the wind, and weather conditions tomorrow may bring radiation to Korea.”
The Korea Herald reported yesterday that, “Radioactive materials from Japan might hit South Korea this week, state-run agencies said Monday. Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety and Korea Meteorological Administration said that winds containing radioactive materials from Fukushima nuclear plants might reach Korea by Thursday.”
However today the Yonhap News said that this was unlikely, “Chances are slim that the Korean Peninsula will be directly affected by radioactive particles from a crippled Japanese nuclear plant this week, South Korea’s state weather agency said Wednesday, easing radiation fears here amid forecasts of imminent heavy rain.”
So should I be worried about radio active rain, or contaminated plants/milk/meat or even sea water coming from Japan? I guess only time will tell. I just hope I don’t wake up in 10 years with 2 heads and a final sense of understanding!